Monday, May 10, 2010

A Trip Up North

As my time has been spent mostly on working with the Netivot program lately, my blog has been fairly silent. Most of my posting has beenon Facebook for the Netivot-2010 page. Below is my latest entry and I am including here on my blog as it is a record of the past few days.

As I write this, I am on the bus on the way back home from Tzfat after an amazing few days up North! Our trip began on Thursday morning with our first stop at Tzipori, an ancient village in the Galil. We learned about the assimilation of the Jews into the Roman way of life, art, culture, etc and how the Jews had internal debates as to how to deal with the threat to the Jewish people. This threat was both in terms of physical and spiritual attacks. We saw the “Mona Lisa of the Galil,” a beautiful mosaic on the floor of an ancient shul.
From there we travelled back some 2000 years to the time when our ancestors lived a very different life. We experienced this in Kedem (in Hoshaya). Here we spoke about why the students are here in Israel to study…we davened Mincha…ate a lunch similar to that of our ancient ancestors and then dressed in costume for our tour of the area…ON DONKEYS! As the saying goes: A good time was had by all!
Our last stop of the day was to take a hike down Mt Arbel. It began with a lookout over the region from the top of the mountain and was then followed by a climb down the mountain-side. (I have a severe fear of heights, but I figured, I would try it too. But we got to one point and the vision of my wife and three daughters flashed before my eyes and I turned back…not because it was unsafe but because I just couldn’t handle the heights!)
Everyone (else!) enjoyed the hike as we met them all at the bottom of the mountain, tired but happy. Then it was off to the hotel for some much needed rest!
The next day (Friday) we spent some time on top of Har Bental in the Golan Heights overlooking a large area of the Golan and also saw the Har Hermon (snow covered) in the distance. What a magnificent view! From there we went to eat lunch (a BBQ). For some reason, the local gnats felt that they were invited to the party as well! After filling up on good BBQ food, it was off to the Jordan River for kayaking. It was not a super hot day but being in the water and kayaking did bring welcome relief from the heat of the day!
And then, it was time for preparing for the best day of the week: SHABBAT! But not just any old Shabbat,,,a Shabbat in Tzfat. After candle lighting, we davened Kabbalat Shabbat in the Ar”I Shul. The significance of this is that it was the Ar”I HaKadosh who instituted Kabbalat Shabbat in Tzfat…we had the opportunity to back to the roots of this Tefilla! We opted out of the Carelbach davening nearby (two hours long…a bit much!) and were back in the hotel for our Shabbat Seudah. The meal, dvar torah and benching concluded, and it was sleep time…for SOME of us! The next morning, we were back at the same shul for tefilla followed by Kiddush and Seudat Shabbat. Before we all broke up for the afternoon, we had a group discussion revolving around making use of the special time available and the wonderful opportunity they all have being in Israel for these few weeks. Then, most decided to take a loooooong rest and some of us decided to sit around and enjoy the beautiful day. It was nice to share this Shabbat with the girls and staff of Midreshet Moriah, who also were there for Shabbat. Our girls will be in their school soon, so it was nice to see all of them as well.
Shabbat late in the late afternoon, a few of us took a walking tour of Tzfat led by Shmarya and me as we walked around and discussed some of what we were seeing. Shamrya then took us to a very high area on a mountain top where there is a memorial to fallen IDF soldiers from Tzfat and the view from up there was INCREDIBLE! We saw the Kineret, Tveria, a large area of Tzfat and the surrounding cities.
Mincha, Maariv and Havadala and a beautiful Shabbat came to a close. As we travel back to the schools and I travel back home, we look forward to yet another great week in which we will all celebrate Yom Yerushalayim and do other special things as well.
It is hard to believe that this program is already 3 ½ weeks old! It has been intense, fun, uplifting, challenging and thought provoking. I pray that it will continue to get better and better and I look forward to the next 4 weeks together.
Shavua tov from somewhere in the Galil, en route home!

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